Image: Lynn Fawcett
Image: Lynn Fawcett

This symbol shares a common root with the Chinese character jī 几. Modern dictionary definitions for jī include stool, workbench and small table. However, the correct translation for this Indus Script character is larder.

Illustrative Text Reference:

Rahman-dheri: Pottery Graffiti, incised: Rhd-169 A: Sayid Ghulam Mustafa Shah and Asko Parpola, 1991: Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions: Volume 2: Page 368: Collections in Pakistan: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia.


The example is a single Indus sign, which appears to have been used as a potter's mark. The symbol is incised on the lower side of a broken pot near the base.

It is assumed that the correct orientation for the character would be that when the pot was sitting upright on its base.

My hypothesis is that the etymology of the character may be a pictograph of a table used to prepare meat for storage, combined with a pictograph of a hook or hooks on which to hang the meat. This then gives us the word larder, which is used on the Indus Civilisation storage jar.

This interpretation is supported by Mackay, who states that some of the large jars found at archaeological sites were used as larders¹.

A variant of the larder symbol was found at Abri Castenet in France². This collapsed rock shelter is estimated to be around 37,000 years old³.

Image Credit:

Larder: Lynn Fawcett, 2022.


1. Arts and Crafts, Chapter VI, page 119: Customs and Amusements, Chapter VII, page 142: Earnest Mackay, revised by Dorothy Mackay, 1948: Early Indus Civilizations: Luzac & Company Ltd., London.


2. Abri Castenet: Anneau One: The Cave Script Translation Project: Accessed: 10 December 2022.


3. Context and dating of Aurignacian vulvar representations from Abri Castanet, France: Randall White et al., 2012: The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol 109, No 22.